Cats can be very adventurous, often getting into things and places they shouldn’t even be near, such as stink bugs. So, what should you do if your cat accidentally (or deliberately) eats a stink bug?
Stink bugs are not poisonous to cats, nor are they inherently dangerous. However, ingesting a stink bug can irritate your cat’s mouth, eyes, and gastrointestinal tract. Most symptoms will fade in time, and these insects do not carry harmful diseases.
While swallowing a stink bug has no adverse influence on your cat’s long-term health, it can still lead to other consequences. In the rest of this article, we will cover those consequences in detail and look into practical prevention methods to solve the problem at its root.
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Why Do Cats Chase and Eat Stink Bugs?
With such sharp hunting instincts, catching stink bugs pose no problem for our swift feline friends. The question is, why do cats target such insects? Some scientists remark that cats chase insects as a substitute for hunting.
Catching insects can serve as mental and physical stimuli for your cat. Due to their instincts, chasing bugs is normal behavior, and some believe that it might just be an enjoyable activity for cats. Some insects also serve as a source of essential nutrients and protein.
Can Stink Bugs Make Your Cat Sick?
Stink bugs are relatively harmless, unlike insects that bite or carry poison and diseases that can harm your cat. However, if your cat eats a stink bug, it can irritate its stomach and become detrimental to its short-term health.
If your cat swallows multiple stink bugs, bezoars may begin to form in its gastrointestinal tract. A bezoar is a lump of undigested material, and a common bezoar in cats is what’s known as a hairball.
Stink bugs have a hard shell called a scutellum that is undigestible, and when cats ingest enough stink bugs, it develops a bezoar made with the scutellum. After some time, cats will usually vomit out the foreign material, or it will come out in the cat’s excretion. Nevertheless, bezoars can cause some unpleasant symptoms, such as:
- Retching and vomiting
- Listlessness/lack of energy
- Little or no desire to eat
- Abdominal discomfort
With a hardened exoskeleton shell to protect them from predators, ingesting stink bugs can lead to pain while going through your cat’s gastrointestinal system. Passing through the cat’s stomach in such a way may also induce retching and vomiting, making your cat feel weaker.
Since the outer shell of a stink bug is hard, it can become stuck in your cat’s throat. The outer shell being stuck means that airflow is restricted, potentially making it difficult for your cat to breathe correctly. If you notice any sign of your cat struggling to breathe, make sure to act immediately by consulting a veterinarian.
Although stink bugs do not carry any natural poison, they can become exposed to pesticides. Your cat eating a lot of stink bugs that have been in the presence of such a toxin can lead to secondary poisoning, which is just as unpleasant.
While it is unlikely to cause too much damage if your cat eats only one pesticide-carrying stink bug, eating several will cause problems. Pesticide poisoning leads to several issues, leading to nausea, illness, or worst. Other symptoms of poisoning for cats include:
- Poor appetite
- Difficulty walking or breathing
- Excessive drooling
- Muscle tremors
Eye and Mouth Irritation
Stink bugs release foul-smelling bodily fluids in the face of actual or perceived threats, and if those fluids get into your cat’s eyes or mouth, it is likely to lead to irritation. It will not lead to any long-term vision impediment. However, the fluids can cause pain and a stinging sensation.
Symptoms of mouth or eye irritation due to stink bug secretion include:
- Swelling around the eye area
- Watery eyes
- The incapability of opening their eyes
Preventing Your Cat From Eating Stink Bugs
Acting as soon as you learn that a stink bug infestation may be brimming is the best thing to do to protect your cat. The insects often appear close to autumn, so fix the cracks on walls and windows beforehand.
You may also benefit from hiring professionals to remove stink bugs. People with expertise in stink bug removal have the relevant tools and treatments to remove the insects. Though it can be costly, pest control experts are thorough and can offer further advice. They are your last but best resort.
Alternative Solutions to Insecticide
If you already have stink bugs in your home, you can remove them using products other than insecticide. Insecticides are poisonous to cats, so it is not advisable to use such chemicals to remove insects. According to PestWorld, a vacuum cleaner is an effective tool for eliminating stink bugs.
Most people have vacuums at home, and using a vacuum cleaner is often more convenient. When cleaning, handle the vacuum bag carefully while removing it from your residence. It is also advisable to avoid touching any stink bugs directly.
Additionally, you can utilize a detergent solution to drench the bugs. Use an empty spray bottle and fill it with a combination of detergent and water. Next, knock the stink bugs into the liquid, thus trapping them and enabling you to get rid of the stink bugs.
Regardless of your chosen method, the best way to ensure that your cat does not eat stink bugs is to ensure they do not come in contact with such insects. Dealing with the issue at its source is the most practical idea, and it can save you the pain of seeing an unhappy cat.
Stink bugs can be very unpleasant, even more so if you live with natural hunters (i.e., cats) who excel at hunting such insects. Nonetheless, now that you know how to eliminate stink bugs and their potential threat to your cats, you can take the appropriate action to keep your home stink bug-free.